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Louisianians Keep Their Health Insurance Subsidies

138,000 people in Louisiana are still receiving subsidies for health insurance through the federal government.  For them, the United States Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act last week was good news. 

Michael Malinowski, a health policy professor at LSU’s Law Center, says one line of the Affordable Care Act was at the center of debate in the Supreme Court case, King v. Burwell: "state subsidies get reimbursed if you create an exchange." 

With no state-run exchange of our own, Louisianians who want to buy healthcare coverage through the Affordable Care Act use the federally-run exchange, healthcare.gov. Twenty-six other states do the same thing. 

Families with an income between 100-400 percent of the federal poverty level are eligible for a subsidy -- a tax credit -- to help them afford the monthly payment. For an individual, that means making anywhere from $11,670 to $46,680 each year.

The question was, are those who purchase healthcare coverage through the federal exchange eligible for the subsidies? The Supreme Court, with a vote of 6-3, said ‘yes.' Malinowski says that if they hadn’t, all those in Louisiana who have subsidies would have lost them and been left to pay the full cost of their health insurance. "

Bottom line" he says, "we were going to lose millions of Americans having healthcare coverage if they did not decide the way they decided." 

Louisiana’s officials have consistently opposed the Affordable Care Act, but that attitude may now be changing. Yet, says Malinowski, "nothing is going to go through this governor. It's got to be a switch in power.”

In this most recent legislative session, Speaker of the House, Republican Chuck Kleckley, successfully moved House Concurrent Resolution 75 through the legislature, making room for the next governor to expand Medicaid.

"In six months, we’ll have a new governor take office. I think of the four candidates that are announced, every one of them has said that in some form or fashion, they’ll support the expansion of Medicaid," Kleckley said.